Turbulence for airlines as travel surge continues

Coronavirus

DENVER (KDVR) — As travelers gain more confidence in flying due to some relaxed COVID-19 restrictions, the increased demand to fly is causing some issues.

The general industry gained nearly 300,000 jobs in March, according to the U.S. Travel Association. Still, the struggling airline industry and others who profit from travel remain poised to make up for lost revenue during the pandemic.

Kristy Osborn of the Travel Leaders agency has more than three decades of experience. She tells the FOX31 Problem Solvers, travelers should be prepared for cancellations as airlines adjust.

“They’re evaluating flight schedules and patterns daily now because so many people are booking and we just didn’t expect this sudden surge,” she said. 

Travel agents can help customers navigate unexpected changes based on public health considerations and changing demand. Osborn recommends considering trip insurance and taking advantage of lower fares, which are likely to rise later this year.

AAA of Colorado spokesperson Skyler McKinley tells FOX31 families should not expect airline travel to be similar to what it was like before the pandemic.

“Now that more folks are beginning to travel again they should know it’s not like 2019,” he said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said fully vaccinated travelers do not need to be tested before or after travel unless their destination requires it. McKinley emphasizes that families should pack necessities.  

“Don’t expect to go to the airport for example and be able to eat in a normal dining experience, when you get on the plane it is more important than ever that you wear a mask for the duration of the flight, don’t expect that you’re going to take a mask off,” McKinley said.

Airline industry expert Steven Cowell tells FOX31 some airlines will need to recall laid off crew members and other employees, including some pilots who will need to be re-qualified before flying.

Cowell adds that major adjustments include bolstering the fleet of aircraft to meet the increased demand.

“The airlines are returning aircraft to service from long term storage. These planes will be outfitted with the latest in advanced HEPA air filtration systems,” he said.

The availability and use of vaccine has made the public more confident in their health and so the amount of people traveling will only continue to increase.

The airlines are behind the curve so to speak and are doing what they can to meet this rapidly increasing demand. As an example, Delta was the last carrier to not sell the middle seats for distancing. Now, they have to meet the demand.

Airplanes are cleaned well between flights and still undergo a deeper cleaning when they overnight. Although COVID is theoretically not surface transmitted, the airlines use disinfectants that combat COVID. Remember, the tray table is the “germiest” part of the seating area.

Passengers should expect to still have to wear masks and may experience some longer waits getting thru security. Restaurants in the airport are still bound by city, county and state requirements for seating capacity. In other words, I’d recommend to not count on eating at the airport due to crowd restrictions and time to make the flight. Parking will also be more challenging. Bottom line, allow yourself more time to make your flight without stress.

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